In this challenging teaching, Jesus reveals the place of suffering in the human experience. He who became fully human had to experience suffering of the deepest kind. Each of us, too, must embrace our crosses as a core element of who we are.

Jesus desires every part of us. When we follow him, we must face those areas of our lives that we would rather ignore, hide, or bury in distractions. To be a disciple is to be honest with ourselves and honest before God as we look to him for healing, hope, and guidance.

God’s ultimate desire for us is true freedom, and that is what we gain by letting go of our fear and selfish desires. This Lent, what do you need to let go of in order to pick up your cross and gain the lasting joy that is found only in Christ?

—Rachel Fitzgibbon serves as Retreat and Spirituality Coordinator at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, Barrington IL.